When you learn a new language one of the things that you need to become familiar with are the rules of grammar and syntax. But the degree to which you have to continue to remember each of the rules in turn is an indication that you haven’t yet become fluent in the new language. Once you do, the rules can be left behind and you can get on with the job of enjoying the new possibilities. It is a similar situation with the Christian faith. There are necessary rules and frameworks that Paul understood the early church needed to know – and he shared some of them in eight short and simple declarations that form the first part of our second reading today – taken from his earliest letter. They provide ample fruit for our Advent reflections to guide us during these hectic and crazy days.
16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not despise the words of prophets, 21 but test everything; hold fast to what is good; 22 abstain from every form of evil.
23 May the God of peace himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
24 The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do this. (I Thessalonians 5:16-24)
Advent, Sunday 3, Year B